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Luck vs. Orton vs. Quinn... let's leave Tebow alone for now.

Let's forget Tebow for now. Tebow and Luck are two completely different QB's and we can argue about which one is better until we are ready to physically hurt each other. Luck is a pocket passer in a system that protects its QB and relies on his accuracy to get the job done. Tebow was a spread offense, dual threat QB who was able to get the job on the ground and in the air. Comparing the two is ridiculous. To accurately value Tebow and Luck we would need to debate the fundamentals of the NFL QB. Which is a better platform? The dual threat or the pocket passer? This is a great debate, but not one I'm wanting to tackle here.

The question that really needs to be asked, and I don't hear anybody asking it, is why is Luck an immediate improvement Orton and Quinn? And, if he's not and we our team wants to go out and get him, why are we so dead set on trading Orton right now, or writing Quinn off like he doesn't exist? Let's take a look at some college stats.

I have put together a list of of 13 QB's we all know well. I'm going to leave off names for the sake of my argument so just look at the stats. These are all college stats from their final year of play before they entered the draft:

 

QB CMP ATT PCT YDS AVG TD  INT RAT
1 289 467 61.9 3426 7.3 37 7 146.65
2 236 389 60.7 3090 7.94 31 5 151.12
3 227 410 55.4 3968 9.7 34 11 158.7
4 232 342 67.8 3129 9.15 28 8 167.03
5 242 364 66.5 3592 9.87 30 11 170.53
6 287 477 60.37 3819 7.7 37 11 148.4
7 214 341 62.8 2586 7.6 20 6 142.3
8 165 246 67.1 2589 10.52 28 6 188.16
9 289 425 68 3722 8.76 28 4 161.43
10 254 396 64.1 3799 9.6 30 5 167.2
11 273 383 71.3 3845 10.04 35 6 182.63
12 292 413 70.7 3621 12.4 30 5 165.9
13 263 372 70.7 3338 9 32 8 170.16

 

I'm sure many of you can probably guess who a few of these QB's are right away, just by looking at the numbers. Which is actually extremely impressive if you think about it. Some interesting facts to consider:

Numbers 10, 7, and 6 have all won Superbowls. None of them completed more than 65% of their college passes during their final year of play.

Number 8 won a Heisman, Number 1 was a runner up.

Numbers 4 and 3 are NFL busts.

Compare numbers 1 and 2. Very similar numbers in college. Not so similar stories in the NFL.

Numbers 4, 5, 6, and 8 all played in the SEC. One was a bust, one has yet to prove himself, one is a legend, and the other will be drafted very high.

Number 11 plays in the WAC and thus will never be tagged as truly elite... even though he has the highest completion percentage.

None of these QB's has ever won a BCS championship game. Although at least one of them entered the draft, number 4, and the next year his team went on to win the BCS championship.

Number 12 wasn't even drafted.

The QB with the lowest QB rating in college is the most successful QB of the past 5 years.

Number 9 was supposed to be the most NFL ready QB coming out of the draft, but has spent much his season struggling to find his groove. He looks to be replaced very soon.

Number 2 is the only QB from Purdue to start in four consecutive bowl games... and it's not Drew Brees. Although number 2 tied Drew Brees for the most passing yards thrown in a single game in school history at 522.

Number 13 has thrown for fewer yards, with a lower AVG, 2 more TD's and 3 more INT than a QB that wasn't even drafted, number 12.

Number 9's nickname is Pickles... awesome.

Number 1 threw for more yards, with more TD's, and less INT's than number 13 did in college, yet right now their NFL value is severely skewed in favor of one of them.

Number 2 was a starter this season and was on pace to set new QB records for his franchise and the NFL. Number 1 was his backup.

Numbers 1 and 2 play for the Broncos.

My Point:

I could go on and on  like this for hours but I'll save you the time. The bottom line is that if you are looking at Andrew Luck, and seriously considering that the Broncos should blow up this draft to get him, what gives you the impression that he is going to be a better player than any of these QB's? Just looking at the numbers can you clearly pick out the one player that you would want to draft?

What does Luck give us that we don't get from Kyle Orton(#2) or Brady Quinn (#1)? Coming out of college all of these QB's look similar. Their stat line falls like this:

 

QB CMP ATT PCT YDS AVG TD  INT RAT Conf
Brady Quinn 289 467 61.9 3426 7.3 37 7 146.65 Indpendent
Kyle Orton 236 389 60.7 3090 7.94 31 5 151.12 Big 10
Andrew Luck 263 372 70.7 3338 9 32 8 170.16 Pac-10

 

Luck's completion percentage and avg are very impressive. The kid is extremely efficient. But he's the same kind of QB that Orton and Quinn are, both of whom we have on our team right now and both of whom have played in the NFL. Quinn was touted as a star coming out of college but he played behind a very poor Cleveland offensive line and we all know that story. If we draft Luck at #1, are forced to spend the remainder of our draft attempting to pick up some defense, we won't be able to really address our poor O-line. Could Luck be walking into a similar situation? And if Luck does struggle just how long can Bronco Country stomach losing seasons and poor QB play before we go for the next sure thing in the draft?

Orton has had a record year with the Broncos this season and once he's back to full health I would imagine he'd be able to step right back into that pocket passer role. He and Luck would be competing on an even playing field with an equal set of skills. Do you imagine that Luck could walk in and play better for the Broncos than Orton has done? If so, what gives you that impression? Yet Bronco Country has soundly told Orton we don't want him here anymore. We'd be a little hasty selling out our draft to bring in a QB to do the exact same things Orton has shown us he can do very well.

I can't believe I have to say this, but I'm not dogging on Luck. I think the kid is showing great talent. But the expense and the risk it would take to acquire Luck is too steep a price for us to pay. I'm hearing what every expert analyst is saying. Trent Dilfer (#10) was on SportsNation absolutely gushing about Luck. I mean he was having a John Madden moment with his pen and whiteboard and everything. He called him the surest thing since John Elway... which I find amusing considering it took John Elway years to prove that he was a "sure thing."

But what if he's wrong? "Experts" get that awesome job of having a huge voice, being extremely opinionated, often wrong, and then being able to shrug their shoulders and go "oh well, missed that one" while a franchise is stuck for the next couple of seasons trying to pick up the pieces. If you go the Rotten Tomatoes route and use analysts like a Tomato meter and say "Look, everyone is loving on this kid, he's gotta be good!" Sometimes it'll be Toy Story 2 and they'll be right... other times it'll be Mama Mia! and you'll spend the entire moving yelling "Avert thine eyes!" to your girlfriend... or worse... her mother. The "experts" don't really care if they are right or wrong in the end. They do know if they speak often and loudly enough though many of us will get on board and start commenting like crazy on their blogs, watching their shows, and keeping Mel Kiper Jr. stocked with hair gel.

The Broncos cannot risk it all on something so dangerous as a rookie QB while jettisoning all their veteran QB talent as well as failing to address their defensive problems. This would be an entirely different story if our defense was in decent shape and our O-line was prepared to protect an investment like Luck. I could get on board with Luck in a heartbeat if that were the case. When the experts look at the Broncos and say, you have to reach and get this guy if you can, what they are really telling this franchise is that you have to be ready to suffer for another three or more years... if everything works out best case scenario. Worst case scenario, you're completely effed and we'll spend the next three years talking about your huge mistakes. Check out this stat line.

 

QB CMP ATT PCT YDS AVG TD  INT RAT
Ryan Leaf 227 410 55.4 3968 9.7 34 11 158.7
Jamarcus Russell 232 342 67.8 3129 9.15 28 8 167.03
Andrew Luck 263 372 70.7 3338 9 32 8 170.16
Jimmy Clausen 289 425 68 3722 8.76 28 4 161.43

 

All of these NFL ready QB's taken in the draft showed great promise... and so far 3/3 actual NFL starters have been complete busts or are making their organizations very nervous. This is what I fear the Broncos will face if we draft Luck. We'll need three or more years to build a team around him.

This is the situation we find ourselves in as football fans. We are bombarded with numbers and statistics and we will sit here and argue them ad nauseum. The critics are high on Luck right now, but this is the same old story told every single year as we gear up for the draft. But statistics tend to be a lot of smoke and mirrors. I know that I won't change anybodies minds and probably just add a whole bunch of text to an already ridiculously huge argument, but I think that it needs to be clear that:

1) Luck MUST be better than Orton and Quinn, or we are trading the world for nothing. I don't think the stats PROVE that he's considerably better based on equal criteria.

2) Nobody here but true Tebow apologists are worried about Luck the player, we are worried about the cost to the Broncos to bring him here.Big distinction.

3) If you are sold on Luck because of his collegiate stats, please keep in mind that huge numbers, plus overwhelming expert opinion doesn't mean much of anything when it comes to reality. It's what got Avatar "one of the greatest movies of all time" labels.

4) There are no sure things, only varying degrees of promise. It is rarely a great idea to put everything on the line for a hopeful risk. There is always more than one path to a Superbowl, and they don't always lead through a quarterback. Perhaps it's time we tried another approach. A defensive one. And let our current QB prove himself during the interim.

I don't think this will actually be an issue in the end, but I've been listening to enough talk radio and reading enough blogs here to get a little worried that the Broncos might be getting QB greedy again.

Here's the full list of all 13 QB's, just in case you were interested.

 


QB CMP ATT PCT YDS AVG TD  INT RAT
Brady Quinn 1 289 467 61.9 3426 7.3 37 7 146.65
Kyle Orton 2 236 389 60.7 3090 7.94 31 5 151.12
Ryan Leaf 3 227 410 55.4 3968 9.7 34 11 158.7
Jamarcus Russell 4 232 342 67.8 3129 9.15 28 8 167.03
Ryan Mallet 5 242 364 66.5 3592 9.87 30 11 170.53
Peyton Manning 6 287 477 60.37 3819 7.7 37 11 148.4
Tom Brady 7 214 341 62.8 2586 7.6 20 6 142.3
Cam Newton 8 165 246 67.1 2589 10.52 28 6 188.16
Jimmy Clausen 9 289 425 68 3722 8.76 28 4 161.43
Trent Dilfer 10 254 396 64.1 3799 9.6 30 5 167.2
Kellen Moore 11 273 383 71.3 3845 10.04 35 6 182.63
Graham Harrell 12 292 413 70.7 3621 12.4 30 5 165.9
Andrew Luck 13 263 372 70.7 3338 9 32 8 170.16

 

Also, just because I know I'll get flack for from people about not including some recent draft successes, check these numbers out.

 

QB CMP ATT PCT YDS AVG TD  INT RAT
Mark Sanchez 241 366 65.8 3207 8.76 34 10 164.64
Matt Ryan 388 654 59.3 4507 6.89 31 19 127.04
Joe Flacco 331 521 63.5 4263 8.18 23 5 144.91
Andrew Luck 263 372 70.7 3338 9 32 8 170.16
Tim Tebow 213 314 67.8 2895 9.22 21 5 164.17

 

I know I promised no Tebow... but I couldn't resist. The entire point of my post is to suggest that numbers can't tell the whole story and they cannot ever guarantee someone as a "sure thing". But since I did all this work I figured we could dig a little deeper, just for fun.

Players I consider success in the NFL

 

Peyton Manning 287 477 60.37 3819 7.7 37 11 148.4
Tom Brady 214 341 62.8 2586 7.6 20 6 142.3
Mark Sanchez 241 366 65.8 3207 8.76 34 10 164.64
Matt Ryan 388 654 59.3 4507 6.89 31 19 127.04
Joe Flacco 331 521 63.5 4263 8.18 23 5 144.91
Aaron Rodgers 209 316 66.1 2566 8.1 24 8 154.35









Averages 278.33 445.83 62.98 3491.33 7.87 28.17 9.83 146.94

 

Compare with players drafted or coming into the draft:

 

 

QB CMP ATT PCT YDS AVG TD  INT RAT
Cam Newton 165 246 67.1 2589 10.52 28 6 188.16
Jimmy Clausen 289 425 68 3722 8.76 28 4 161.43
Kellen Moore 273 383 71.3 3845 10.04 35 6 182.63
Jake Locker 184 332 55.4 2265 6.82 17 9 124.2
Andrew Luck 263 372 70.7 3338 9 32 8 170.16
Ryan Mallet 242 364 66.5 3592 9.87 30 11 170.53









Averages 236.00 353.67 66.50 3225.17 9.17 28.33 7.33 166.19

I know the sample is small and I left out some names, but I think it will suffice for our purposes. This draft class throws less on average, at a higher percentage, for greater yardage, equal TD's, and fewer interceptions with a higher QB efficiency rating. Take what you will, but I still insist that no matter how hard you crunch these numbers you won't find a telling sign as to what makes a college QB great in the NFL. College may be the best indicator of success in the NFL, but that indicator is often wrong. I hope the Broncos organization continues to keep that in mind as they sit down over the next couple of months and decide which direction this franchise is going to go.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on MileHighReport.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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